Monday, October 20, 2008

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tories Call for Small Business VAT Holiday Gordon Going Ahead with Small Business Tax Hike

Guido hasn’t seen any details other than the couple of sentences in Dave’s CiF article. It is a start. Being able to put off paying the VAT for two quarters will be a little bit of much appreciated help to small businesses.

Certainly far more help than Gordon’s scheduled 2% hike on small business corporation tax. In a recession the last thing businesses need is a tax hike. How will a tax hike help small businesses create jobs?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

+++ ComRes Puts Tories on Single Digit Lead of 9% +++

Not that things look that good for Gordon. The other answers were pretty negative:

  • It is right that taxpayers’ money should be used to bail out banks.
    Agree 37% Disagree 58%
  • Gordon Brown’s decisive handling of the bank crisis means that Labour has a good chance of winning the next election.
    Agree 37% Disagree 54%
  • If David Cameron had been prime minister, he would have handled the bank crisis better than Gordon Brown.
    Agree 25% Disagree 56%

Poll was for the Indy on Sunday. Full dataset.

UPDATE : ICM gives 16 point Tory Lead in tomorrows News of the World.

Blair Knew About Abu Ghraib Torture

The torture of Iraqi detainees tshocked even supporters of the liberation of Iraq. Along with Guantanamo they did much to undermine the perceived moral legitimacy of the United States’ post 9/11 response. The photos were truly shocking.

Peter Oborne this morning reveals that despite protestations to the contrary, Blair had received reports of human rights violations seven weeks before the infamous photos became public.

Yet when the news of the atrocities came to light in the Press, Tony Blair played dumb and merely expressed surprise. He told MPs that neither he nor any member of his government had known about the barbaric scenes. ‘It is not correct that ministers or I were aware of those allegations in respect of American troops,’ the prime minister told the then Tory leader Michael Howard.

It now appears that in fact a shocked Bill Rammell, then a junior Foreign Office minister, had been briefed during a meeting in Geneva by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

This meeting took place seven weeks before the atrocities became public knowledge and Abu Ghraib became a byword for American brutality. To his credit, Rammell says he was so shocked by the revelations that he immediately convened an emergency meeting of Foreign Office officials. In his statement, he said: ‘I was assured that defence ministers were already aware of the allegations and that actions were being taken by the Ministry of Defence to deal with the allegations, which was the case.’

So his claim that ministers were not aware is untrue according to the testimony of a minister who did know. The inference is that Blair must have known as well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blog Regulation :They’ll Have to Prise the Keyboard Out of Guido’s Cold Dead Hand

Dale has been telling Guido this was coming for some time. At a fringe meeting at Conservative Party Conference on the platform Guido insisted the government wouldn’t have a chance of suppressing him unless they went down the Iranian route of censoring the internet at the ISP level or copying the Great Firewall of China, and they wouldn’t do that.

Maybe Guido underestimated the government. Having failed to put a positive spin on Gordon, Stephen Carter is going to try and regulate blogs under the guise of “promoting content standards” – otherwise known as censorship. No doubt bloggers will first be found guilty of some kind of thoughtcrime to justify censorship, apparently calling Chinese milk a “Chinky Drinky” in a jokey headline is bigoted, co-conspirators calling Ed Balls names will no doubt be guilty of a crime against the state soon.

Andy Burnham a couple of weeks ago made a direct threat against bloggers, “It is not just about copyright or intellectual property but [things like] taste and decency in the online world. The time will come to say what are the direct interventions [needed, if any].”

Freedom of speech is messy, freedom is messy full stop, but it is of primary importance There is no way Guido is going to surrender his liberty to insult, expose and humiliate our rulers in the vilest ways he can. That wouldn’t be fun at all. If they want a fight, a fight they shall get. They will have to prise the keyboard out of Guido’s cold dead hand…

Friday Caption Contest (Brillo’s Babes)

Gordon’s Pollster Deborah Mattinson Slammed for Dodgy Polling

Guido has banged on for a long time about Deborah Mattinson’s dodgy polling. Her firm’s “free” polling for Gordon Brown’s Smith Institute seemed to correlate with their ability to win 90% of government contracts. In September 2007 the Greens accused her of distorting evidence to support the government’s position on nuclear power. She of course raked in the fees for Citizen’s Juries, (motto “verdict first, evidence later”). Her firm famously charged taxpayers an incredible £153,484.38 for a one day seminar.

Guido wrote in February 2007 that “in times of need, Gordon’s pollster conducts polls with dubious methodologies which she then writes up in hagiographical pro-Gordon articles… Is Guido the only one who thinks there might, in the circumstances, be a serious conflict of interest in her not only sitting on the board of the Smith Institute but also having HM Treasury as a paying client?”

Following yet another complaint, this time from Greenpeace, the Market Research Standards Board has found that in the consultation conducted by Opinion Leader Research, “information was inaccurately or misleadingly presented, or was imbalanced, which gave rise to a material risk of respondents being led towards a particular answer.” OLR is now finished as a serious pollster.

See more on Deborah Mattinson

Is That It?

is_that_itGuido has just got back from Bloomberg’s City HQ (a cross between a nightclub and an art gallery with offices above). He was there to hear what had been billed as Cameron’s speech in defence of free enterprise and the start of the counter-attack on Gordon’s handling of the crisis.

First the good news: the Tory diagnosis of Brown’s errors that have got us where we are is coherent. The mistaken emasculation of the Bank of England is critical to understanding what went wrong with British banking. The Brown Bust is going to be worse for Britain than the credit crunch is going to be in many other countries because the government’s finances are so weak. Dave told the City audience that, basically, they would not have got us into this situation because they would have held down public expenditure – the traditional role of centre-right governments the world over. Fine. But we are where we are.

Now the bad news: if the Tories were in government tomorrow they offer next to nothing to get us out of the mess we are in. There was no road-map out of recession. The Tories promise to be “responsible” with the economy is just an echo of New Labour’s pre-1997 promise to be “prudent”. It is political triangulation to neutralise Labour’s tried and tested attacks on “Tory Cuts”. Guido heard only two concrete policy initiatives repeated; a freeze on council taxes and the removal of the requirement for retirees to purchase pension annuities.

The freeze is worth some £50 to £100 per household per annum. The change to pension planning applies to less than 1% of the population per annum. Not exactly policies to get us out of recession are they?

There is no “responsible” route out of recession – we need radical action to rescue the economy. We need a growth package and we need it fast, the sooner it is in place the quicker we will be out of recession. On the back of an envelope Guido reckons raising tax thresholds £1000 will cost £6 billion or so per annum. It will boost household incomes accordingly, putting money into the economy the best way, not via the state, but from spending decisions by those hard pressed families politicians are always on about. Forget the PSBR and the golden rule, that has just been overshot by 100% plus, you can’t prudently get out of recession, you need to stimulate growth.

The U.S. will be out of recession faster because they have already put $500 billion into the economy with a tax rebate and because both presidential candidates are running on a platform of more tax cuts to boost growth. The Tory plan for responsibility is a plan for prudence, not a plan for growth. Wrong policy, wrong time. Is that it?

Osborne and Cameron always emphasise that they won’t be reckless with the economy, they also say we now have the highest levels of taxation ever. Isn’t it actually reckless to maintain that level of a tax burden on an already depressed economy?

UPDATE : A tax wonk tells Guido that for £20 billion we could raise tax thresholds some £3,000 per annum. Even better. That would be real help, for real people in the real economy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Tory Obamacons Should Look and Learn

The Cameroons who lean towards Obama are the same Tories who shy away from advocating reducing the tax burden. Look however what their hero says on the issue:

Danny Finkelstein says repeatedly that voters don’t believe politicians who promise tax cuts – so why make the promise? One thing for sure is that the next President of the USA will have run on a tax cutting platform and both candidates think that is what the voters want. Danny will no doubt argue that America is different, perhaps, or maybe he is re-fighting the 2005 UK campaign. Voters are now feeling the pinch, they would rather they took home more in their pay-packets. The Tories should join the LibDems in giving a straight-forward promise to substantially raise tax thresholds to help 95% of hard-working families. If it is good enough for Obama…

UPDATE : Danny defends himself this morning. He nuances it a little, he is in favour of tax cuts, but not the promising of them and questions whether they would be responsible. Is it it really responsible to depress the economy with this high level of taxation?

Credit Crunch : Irish Politicians Lead with Pay Cuts

Hopefully this is another Irish example that will be followed here. The Irish President Mary McAleese has announced that she will be taking a 10% pay cut in light of the current budgetary troubles. The finance Minister Brian Lenihan says he and his ministerial colleagues will also take a 10% wage cut. The opposition leader has instructed his party’s parliamentarians to take a 5% cut. The governor of the Irish Central Bank and Financial Services Authority has volunteered to also surrender 10% of pay. RTÉ’s top six executives are taking a “significant reduction” in pay. This follows the government’s announcement of a round of spending cuts as recession bites.

The Irish ruling elite realise that they need to show leadership by example in tough times.

Will British politicians follow suit? After all their pension’s profited from short selling. Will they get their snouts out of the hard-pressed taxpayer provided gold-plated troughs? Perhaps some of the senior executives at the BBC could follow the example of their counterparts at the Irish state broadcaster? They all want the bankers to sacrifice their bonuses, but don’t the Chairman of the FSA and the Governor of the Bank of England need to make sacrifices? It is not as if they have been brilliant at bank regulation. If they were all paid on a performance-related basis they should be losing 30% or more – the same as the stock market has cost pensioners…


Seen Elsewhere

#IndyRef Twitter Map | Trendsmap
Westminster Has Patronised Scots | Scottish Sun
What Happens in the Event of a Recount? | Breitbart
Yes Side Emphatically Won Campaign | Speccie
Joyce Thacker on Sick Leave | Doncaster Free Press
Claire Perry Slams ‘Goodies’ for Scots | Sun
Westminster Truce Shatters | Times
Boris: Prime Minister By Monday | James Ford
Tories Say Don’t Bribe the Scots | Times
Dave Can’t Stay if Scots Go | Laura Perrins
BBC Crew Attacked in Russia | BBC


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